TWO stores in Penrith sold knives to juveniles during an innovative operation to highlight knife-crime.

Sixth-formers from the area volunteered to help police carry out knife test purchases at stores in Penrith - and of the ten shops they visited only two failed the test, say police.

The operation was part of the national Operation Sceptre, tackling knife crime.

It was conducted jointly with Trading Standards.

The idea was to underline the importance of stores not selling knives to those under the age of 18.

In eight stores, the staff challenged the students by asking for identification and declining the sale.

But in one store, the students bought a "large chef’s knife" while in another they bought garden shears.

On this occasion, say police, the store staff involved were given advice on knife safety and told to adhere to their challenge policies.

The police sergeant who led the operation said: “I would like to congratulate the eight stores which were able to demonstrate their challenge 25 policy and declined the sales of knives and bladed articles today.

"We will continue to conduct operations like this one and work closely with traders to ensure compliance with the law. My advice to those employed in premises where knives are sold are to continue being proactive in challenging young adults and always ask for ID.”

* Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988, it is an offence for any person to sell to a person under 18:

* any knife, knife blade or razor blade

* any axe

* any other article that has a blade or is sharply pointed and is made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person

The prohibition does not apply to folding pocket knives if the cutting edge of the blade is less than 7.62 cm (three inches) or to replacement cartridges for safety razors, where less than 2 mm of the blade is exposed. For more information, look at the advice offered by the UK's Trading Standards Institute advice here.

* Challenge 21 and 25 policies usually refer to the practice of alcohol vendors challenging those trying to buy booze. It is a committment to challenge the person about their age if there is any doubt.